Tag: book trade

Beautiful books

9 March 2012 | In the news

Design: Markus Pyörälä. The cover of Runojä (‘Poemms’) by Harry Salmenniemi

The Finnish Book Art Committee chooses the most beautiful books of the year from various categories of publications, and awards the prize of the Most Beautiful Book of the Year.

Graphic design, typography, cover and binding are all taken into consideration. Honorary diplomas are awarded to the designers, publishers, printers and other production units of the prize-winning books.

The Finnish Fair Foundation makes an annual grant to the Finnish Book Art Committee, which works in cooperation with the National Library of Finland. Representatives from various fields participate in the work of the juries. The prizes has been awarded since 1947.

This year the Most Beautiful Book of the Year was a collection of poetry by Harry Salmenniemi, Runojä (Runoja, ‘Poems’, deliberately misspelt in the title – ‘Poemms’?). The graphic designer is Markus Pyörälä, the publisher, Otava.

The jury commented: ‘Just as in the poetry itself, all the senses are engaged on the cover. The typography, so instrumental to prose poetry, provides structure and surprises…. All traditional beauty is there too: the tender touch of the paper, the snappy binding and the skillfully chosen fonts. Gold on the cover, overall, platinum.’

Out of my hands

10 November 2011 | Articles, Non-fiction

Who's been eating my porridge? From ‘English Fairy Tales’ by Flora Annie Steel (1918), illustrated by Arthur Rackham. The Project Gutenberg e-Book

In the classic fairy-tale, on finding their belongings were not as they had left them, the three bears exclaimed: ‘Who’s been eating my porridge?’ When our technology correspondent Teemu Manninen found someone else’s underlinings in the electronic text he was reading, he wondered: ‘Who’s been tampering with my ebook?’ Which led him to ponder how similar books and their virtual counterparts really are – and could his ebook really be called ‘his’?

A few months ago I was reading an ebook on my iPad when I came across an underlined passage. For a moment I felt strangely disturbed. My initial thought was that I had not made the underlining, and therefore this had to be a glitch, an error in the computer program that was the book, which meant that there was something wrong with my book. What made this thought disturbing was the realisation that the kinds of harm that can befall digital books – and the measures that one can take to prevent them – are no longer ‘in my hands’: that the book is no longer physical, but virtual. More…

Helsinki Book Fair 2011

2 November 2011 | In the news

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at the Book Fair: Viro is Estonia in Finnish. Photo: Kimmo Brandt/The Finnish Fair Corporation

The Helsinki Book Fair, held from 27 to 30 October, attracted more visitors than ever before: 81,000 people came to browse and buy books at the stands of nearly 300 exhibitors and to meet more than a thousand writers and performers at almost 700 events.

The Music Fair, the Wine, Food and Good Living event and the sales exhibition of contemporary art, ArtForum, held at the same time at Helsinki’s Exhibition and Convention Centre, expanded the selection of events and – a significant synergetic advantage, of course – shopping facilities. Twenty-eight per cent of the visitors thought this Book Fair was better than the previous one held in 2010.

According to a poll conducted among three hundred visitors, 21 per cent had read an electronic book while only 6 per cent had an e-book reader of their own. Twenty-five per cent did not believe that e-books will exceed the popularity of printed books, and only three per cent believed that e-books would win the competition.

Estonia was the theme country this time. President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of the Republic of Estonia noted in his speech at the opening ceremony: ‘As we know well from the fate of many of our kindred Finno-Ugric languages, not writing could truly mean a slow national demise. So publish or perish has special meaning here. Without a literary culture, we would simply not exist and we have known this for many generations, since the Finnish and Estonian national epics Kalevala and Kalevipoeg. – During the last decade, more original literature and translations have been published in Estonia than ever before. And we need only access the Internet to glimpse the volume of text that is not printed – it is even larger than the printed corpus. We live in an era of flood, not drought, and thus it is no wonder that as a discerning people, we do not want to keep our ideas and wisdom to ourselves but try to share and distribute them more widely. The idea is not to try to conquer the world but simply, with our own words, to be a full participant in global literary culture, and in the intellectual history and future of humankind.’

Finland meets Estonia: authors Sofi Oksanen and Viivi Luik in discussion. Photo: Kimmo Brandt/The Finnish Fair Corporation

Springtime in Paris: Nordic writers on a French visit

25 March 2011 | In the news

With an icy northerly wind at my back I took off from Helsinki and landed in Paris, where it was springtime and the cherry trees were in bloom. The aim of my trip was to join eleven translators from Finnish into all the main Nordic languages in examining the trickiest corners of the Finnish language and discussing the actual working conditions of literary translators, as well as the possibilities for Nordic literature to assert itself in the world.

I was also going to meet with and listen to more than sixty writers from all the Nordic countries. Why did I have to go to Paris to do it? Because this was where Bokskogen, the Forest of Books, had grown.

At the Salon du Livre held in Paris from 18 to 21 March, at which the Nordic countries were the guests of honour, FILI (the Finnish Literature Exchange) was in charge of coordinating the Nordic pavilion, some 400 square metres in area.

The airy Scandinavian Forest of Books was filled with the murmur of Parisians in search of something Nordic to read and intent on having their newly purchased books signed by authors like Sofi Oksanen, Kari Hotakainen, Matti Rönkä, Monika Fagerholm, Katarina Gäddnäs, Seita Parkkola, Aira Savisaari, Johanna Sinisalo, Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen.

Before the official inauguration by France’s Minister of Culture Frédéric Mittérand the programmes had already been underway for four days. Just over a hundred professional people –  publishers, translators and other cultural figures and institutions from across the Nordic countries – took part in various workshops to discuss common focal points and share experiences and best practices with each other and their French colleagues.

One of the major events was the Cultural Forum, a collaboration between FILI, the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Finnish presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers. Its theme was the training of translators, and also the book industry in a global context.

In early March a dozen French journalists and booksellers toured Helsinki and Tammisaari (Ekenäs) in order to meet Finnish authors and interview them as a prelude to the big show. As a result Nordic literature also made its presence felt in France’s press and bookstores.

Translated by David McDuff

The books that sold

11 March 2011 | In the news

-Today we're off to the Middle Ages Fair. – Oh, right. - Welcome! I'm Knight Orgulf. – I'm a noblewoman. -Who are you? – The plague. *From Fingerpori by Pertti Jarla

Among the ten best-selling Finnish fiction books in 2010, according statistics compiled by the Booksellers’ Association of Finland, were three crime novels.

Number one on the list was the latest thriller by Ilkka Remes, Shokkiaalto (‘Shock wave‘, WSOY). It sold 72,600 copies. Second came a new family novel Totta (‘True’, Otava) by Riikka Pulkkinen, 59,100 copies.

Number three was a new thriller by Reijo Mäki (Kolmijalkainen mies, ‘The three-legged man’, Otava), and a new police novel by Matti Yrjänä Joensuu, Harjunpää ja rautahuone (‘Harjunpää and the iron room’, Otava), was number six.

The Finlandia Fiction Prize winner 2010, Nenäpäivä (‘Nose day’, Teos) by Mikko Rimminen, sold almost 54,000 copies and was fourth on the list. Sofi Oksanen’s record-breaking, prize-winning Puhdistus (Purge, WSOY; first published in 2008) was still in fifth place, with 52,000 copies sold.

Among translated fiction books were, as usual, names like Patricia Cornwell, Dan Brown and Liza Marklund.

In non-fiction, the weather, fickle and fierce, seems to be a subject of endless interest to Finns; the list was topped by Sääpäiväkirja 2011 (‘Weather book 2011’, Otava), with a whopping 140,000 copies. Number two was the Guinness World Records 2011, but with just 43,000 copies. Books on wine, cookery and garden were popular. A book on Finnish history after the civil war, Vihan ja rakkauden liekit (‘Flames of hate and love’, Otava) by Sirpa Kähkönen, made it to number 8 on the list.

The Finnish children’s books best-sellers’ list was topped by the latest picture book by Mauri Kunnas, Hurja-Harri ja pullon henki (‘Wild Harry and the genie’, Otava), selling almost 66,000 copies. As usual, Walt Disney ruled the roost in the translated fiction list.

The Finnish comics list was dominated by Pertti Jarla (his Fingerpori series books sold more than 70,000 copies, almost as much as Remes’ Shokkiaalto!) and Juba Tuomola (Viivi and Wagner series; both mostly published by Arktinen Banaani): between them, they grabbed 14 places out of 20!

Kai Ekholm & Yrjö Repo: Kirja tienhaarassa vuonna 2020 [The book at the crossroads in 2020]

10 December 2010 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Kirja tienhaarassa vuonna 2020
[The book at the crossroads in 2020]
Helsinki: Gaudeamus, 2010. 205 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-495-158-6
€29, paperback

This book looks at Finnish book publishing and its likely rate and direction of change. The future of the Finnish industry looks slightly more favourable than similar international forecasts have made out, although there have been some shake-ups in the Finnish book world too. The authors point out that while the decrease of reading as a leisure pursuit appears to be part of a long-term international trend, many feared for the future of the book in previous centuries as well. Book production and distribution, as well as changes undergone by various genres, are illustrated through a variety of statistics. They also go a long way towards explaining whether the publishing industry’s current difficulties are intrinsic or extrinsic in origin. The authors strive to find new perspectives to get away from a fear of the online world. The renewable publishing and reading culture envisioned by the authors will benefit from the novelty and efficiency of electronic publishing and will reinforce traditional knowledge. Professor Kai Ekholm is the Director of the National Library of Finland; Yrjö Repo is a researcher and statistician.

Helsinki Book Fair: 28–31 October

22 October 2010 | In the news

Looking for books: Helsinki Book Fair (Photo:The Finnish Fair Corporation, 2009)

The tenth Helsinki Book Fair takes place in Helsinki’s Exhibition & Convention Centre over the last weekend of October. More than 1,000 writers, artists, scientists, politicians and specialists will participate in the programme. There are more than fifty authors from 17 countries, among them the British historian Antony Beevor, the Estonian writer Jaan Kaplinski and the Indian writer Kishwar Desai.

The theme country this year is France, and among the French guests will be the novelists Andreï Makine and Nicolas Fargues, the fantasy writer Pierre Pével and the poets Sophie Loizeau, Hélène Sanguinetti and Gabriel Mwènè Okoundji, originally from Congo.

The translator Anne Colin du Terrail will talk to the writers Leena Lehtolainen and Johanna Sinisalo whose work she has translated into French.

Comics and graphic novels as well as poetry are also in the focus at this year’s Book Fair: approximately 70 Finnish and foreign poets feature in readings, interviews and nonstop performances.

In 2009 a record-breaking number of visitors – almost 77,000 – attended the Book Fair. It seems the autumnal Fair is a handy chance to many to buy Christmas presents, among other things; at least last year three out of four said they had come to buy books (and not just spot celebrities, for example).

This time, in addition to books, the visitors to the Exhibition & Convention Centre will be able to attend two other Fairs, entitled Wine, Food and Good Living and Music Fair as well.

Fair assessment

7 November 2009 | This 'n' that

Hello Tatu – or is it Patu?: the graphic novel heroes from popular books by Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen meet a fan. – Photo: Suomen Messut

Hello Tatu – or is it Patu?: heroes from the popular children's books by Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen meet a fan. – Photo: Suomen Messut

A thousand people more than last year – a record total of 76,800 – attended the Helsinki Book Fair in late October. This year the event was particularly popular with families with children.

More than half of the visitors said they were interested primarily in writer guests, of whom the most popular were, not surprisingly, crime writers, among them Karin Slaughter from the US and Jens Lapidus from Sweden.

Two other fairs, entitled the Wine, Food and the Good Living and the Helsinki Music Fair, were held at the same time at the Helsinki Fairs Centre.

The theme country in 2010 – when the Book Fair celebrates its tenth anniversary – will be France.

Fair game

23 October 2009 | This 'n' that

Words for sale: Helsinki Book Fair, 2009. - Photo: Suomen Messut, Kimmo Brandt

Words for sale: Helsinki Book Fair, 2009. - Photo: Suomen Messut / Kimmo Brandt

The Helsinki Book Fair opened yesterday (22 October), with the theme ‘What’s really happening’, at the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre. Over four days there will be more than a thousand performers (mostly writers and their interviewers) and nearly 300 exhibitors. Last year’s Fair attracted 68,000 visitors.

The words of the theme are borrowed from a 1960s collection of poems (Mitä tapahtuu todella) by Pentti Saarikoski (1937–1983). According to the press release, the theme ‘sums up what literature is about’; moreover, ‘fiction and non-fiction reflect this very day, reinterpreting the past and present glimpses of what is to come’.

What’s really happening, it seems to us, is that inventing catchy titles for commercial purposes is an enterprise that should be undertaken with caution, as it may produce unintentional connotations for the delectation of those in the know… Mitä tapahtuu todella – its title borrowed in turn from none other than the Russian revolutionary Vladimir Ilyich Lenin – was a politically utopian collection in which Saarikoski expressed his belief in dialectical materialism and communism, contrasting American avant-garde art with the Marxist-Leninist utopia in which the writer wished to live.

In recognition of bicentennial 1809, the year in which Finland ceased to be part of the kingdom of Sweden and became an autonomous Grand Duchy of Russia, Sweden is under focus at the Book Fair, and is represented by 27 exhibitors and more than 30 performers. Writers from eight countries in all will visit the Fair, Russia taking part for the first time. Among the visitors are the writers Andrei Astvatsaturov and Herman Sadullajev and the translators Lyudmila Braude ja Anna Sidorova, who were awarded this year’s Finnish Government Prize for Translation.

The Fair is organised by The Finnish Fair Corporation in conjunction with the Finnish Book Publishers Association and the Organisation of the Booksellers Association of Finland.